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Record-Courier staff report
Junior Dani Ramos' triple with two outs in the top of the sixth inning brought freshman Maddy Grimm home to score the winning run as Kent State defeated Central Michigan 6-5 Sunday afternoon at the Diamond at Dix.
The victory gives the Golden Flashes a series split with the Chippewas, improving to 17-15 overall and back to .500 in Mid-American Conference play at 3-3.
"I was really excited about today's win," said Kent State coach Karen Linder said. "It was a great team effort. We had all four phases of the game -- offense, defense, pitching and energy -- show up. I really thought our energy was great today."
The Flashes led 5-1 through four innings, but Central Michigan used two-run homers in the fifth and sixth to tie the game and temporarily seize momentum.
After getting Kent State's first batters to ground out in the bottom of the sixth, Central Michigan elected to walk Grimm and not to give the freshman slugger an opportunity to decide the game. That decision worked in the Flashes' favor, as Ramos sent the ball to right-center and Central Michigan's outfielder was unable to come up with a diving catch that allowed Grimm to score all the way from first.
"Dani did a great job of coming through in the clutch for us," Linder said. "She was very focused, very determined and you could see her intensity in her face."
For the second straight day, Kent State plated a run in the first inning. Grimm was walked to start the inning, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a single through the left side of the infield by junior Kim Kirkpatrick.
Just like her younger sister did on Saturday, Cory DeLamielleure tied the game with a solo homer in the third inning
Kent State scored four in the bottom of the fourth, as junior Ariele Patterson started the rally with a leadoff home run. Senior Kim Morgason followed with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Freshman Janel Hayes brought her home with a pinch-hit double to center. After changing pitchers and recording the second out of the inning, the Chippewas issued a walk to Grimm. A single to left field by Ramos allowed pinch-runner Arika Roush to score from second, and a bobble on the play allowed Grimm and Ramos both to advance. Grimm then scampered home on a wild pitch to give the Flashes a 5-1 lead.
Typically, that is all the run support that KSU junior pitcher Emma Johnson needs. While the Kent State ace limited the Chippewas to just five base hits on the day, three of them were home runs. CMU's Brittney Horan cut into the lead with a two-run shot in the fifth and Evelyn Lorimer made it a tie ballgame with a two-run blast in the sixth.
Johnson remained poised and struck out the next batter to end the sixth.
After KSU took the lead again in the bottom of the sixth, Johnson came back to retire the side in the seventh to close out the victory.
"Emma has been our best pitcher over the last two years," Linder said of the 2013 MAC Pitcher of the Year. "She's been in those situations a lot more and knows the importance of being able to come back and shut teams down after allowing them to score."
Johnson (9-7) tossed her eighth complete game of the season to pick up the victory. She had 10 strikeouts and allowed just one walk, but also hit three batters.
Ramos went 2-for-3 at the dish to lead the Kent State offense. Both hits came with two outs and brought a run home to score. She also impacted the game on defense, making a terrific catch on the run to end the fifth inning.
Batting in the leadoff spot for the first time, Grimm made quite an impact on the game despite not recording an official at-bat. Central Michigan pitched very carefully to the Flashes' top hitter and gave her just two pitches to swing at while walking her in all four of her plate appearances. She made the most of reaching base and scored three runs.
"We put Maddy in the one-hole because they walked her every time she was up yesterday," Linder said of Grimm's new spot in the lineup. "We thought if they continued to walk her, we would take advantage of it. And our kids behind her did a good job of being able to produce."